Louis Theroux

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Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux at Nordiske Mediedager 2009.jpg
Theroux in 2009
Born (1970-05-20) May 20, 1970 (age 43)
Singapore
Occupation Broadcaster
Spouse(s) Susanna Kleeman (1998–2001)
Nancy Strang (2012–present)[1]
Children 2[1]
Parents Paul Theroux
Anne Castle
Relatives Marcel Theroux (brother)
Alexander Theroux (uncle)
Justin Theroux (cousin)
Website
louistheroux.com

Louis Sebastian Theroux (/θəˈr/ LOO-ee thə-ROO;[2] born May 20, 1970) is an English journalist and broadcaster. He is best known for his documentaries in the television series Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends and When Louis Met..., as well as his Louis Theroux's BBC Two specials. His career started in journalism and bears influences of notable writers in his family, such as his father Paul Theroux and brother Marcel Theroux. He currently works with the BBC, producing his documentaries and popular television series.

Early life and career[edit]

Theroux is the youngest son of the American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux (who is of French-Canadian and Italian descent).[3] His elder brother is the writer and television presenter Marcel Theroux.[1] He is the cousin of American actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux. Born in Singapore, he moved to the UK when he was one and was brought up in London thereafter.[4]

Theroux was educated for a couple of years at Allfarthing Primary School then moved to Westminster School (where he was a friend and contemporary of the comedians Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish). Another of his contemporaries was Liberal Democrat politician and current Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, with whom he travelled to America.[5] He then went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he gained a first class degree in history and was noted for his film reviews for the Grapevine magazine.

His first employment as a journalist was with Metro Silicon Valley, an alternative free weekly newspaper in San Jose, California. In 1992, he was hired as a writer for Spy magazine. He was also working as a correspondent on Michael Moore's TV Nation series, for which he provided segments on off-beat cultural subjects, including selling Avon to women in the Amazon, the Jerusalem syndrome and the attempts by the Ku Klux Klan to rebrand itself as a civil rights group for white people. When TV Nation ended he was signed to a development deal by the BBC, out of which came Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. He has guest-written for a number of publications including Hip-Hop Connection and he continues to write for The Idler.

Documentaries[edit]

Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends[edit]

In Weird Weekends (1998–2000), Theroux followed marginal, mostly American subcultures like survivalists, black nationalists, white supremacists and porn stars, often by living among or close to the people involved. Often, his documentary method subtly exposed the contradictions or farcical elements of some seriously held beliefs. Theroux himself describes the aim of the series as: "Setting out to discover the genuinely odd in the most ordinary setting. To me, it's almost a privilege to be welcomed into these communities and to shine a light on them and, maybe, through my enthusiasm, to get people to reveal more of themselves than they may have intended. The show is laughing at me, adrift in their world, as much as at them. I don't have to play up that stuff. I'm not a matinee idol disguised as a nerd." Despite calls for a complete DVD set of the Weird Weekends series, only selected episodes have ever been available for purchase.

When Louis Met...[edit]

In When Louis Met... (2000–02), Theroux accompanied a different British celebrity in each programme as they go about their day-to-day business, interviewing them about their lives and experiences as he did so. His episode about British entertainer Jimmy Savile, When Louis Met Jimmy, was voted one of the top fifty documentaries of all time in a survey by Britain's Channel 4. In When Louis Met the Hamiltons, the disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine were arrested following false allegations of indecent assault during the course of filming.

In When Louis Met Max Clifford, Max Clifford tried to set Louis up. However, it backfired when Clifford was caught lying, as the crew was still recording his live microphone during a conversation. After this series concluded, a retrospective was aired called Life with Louis. He was meant to do a similar programme with Michael Jackson before Martin Bashir completed his documentary for ITV, but it was cancelled.[citation needed] Theroux went on to make a documentary called Louis, Martin & Michael about his quest to get an interview with Michael Jackson. Selected episodes of When Louis Met... were included as bonus content on a Best-Of collection of Weird Weekends. The entire series has never been released on DVD.

BBC Two specials[edit]

In these special programmes, beginning in 2003, Theroux returned to American themes, working at feature-length, this time with a more natural tone. In March 2006, he signed a new deal with the BBC to make 10 films over the course of three years.[6] Subjects for the specials include criminal gangs in Lagos, Neo-Nazis in America, ultra-Zionists in Israel, child psychiatry and the prison system in California and Florida. A 2007 special, The Most Hated Family in America, received strong critical praise from the international media.

A new three part series based in Los Angeles was announced by the BBC in February 2014. The first part, In the City of Dogs, was aired on the 23rd March.[7] The three programmes covered three wildly disparate aspects of life in Los Angeles.

In 'City of Dogs': Louis meets the characters whose lives revolve around LA's huge canine population. (23rd March 2014)

In 'Edge of Life': Louis meets patients battling for their lives in LA's most famous hospital. (30th March 2014)

In 'Among the Sex Offenders': Louis spends time in the twilight world of Los Angeles' paroled sex offenders. (6th April 2014)

Books[edit]

His first book, The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures, was published in Britain in 2005. In the book Theroux returns to America to find out what has happened in the lives of some of the people he featured in his television programmes since he last saw them.[1]

Filmography[edit]

As part of the Weird Weekends episode Porn, he agreed to a cameo in the 1997 gay pornography release Take a Peak.[8] He did not perform sexual acts in the film, but made a brief appearance as a ranger in search of a criminal.

In the Weird Weekends episode on Infomercials he was featured as a live-salesman for an at-home paper shredder for the Home Shopping Network.[9]

Personal life[edit]

He used to live in the London district of Harlesden.[1][10] He now lives in Los Angeles, after moving there in early 2013 with his family, but plans to return to Britain.[11]

In a 2012 masterclass, Theroux spoke of the challenges of combining family life with the need to go away to work on projects.[12]

Theroux describes himself as an atheist.[13] He was quoted on the matter saying "It's very comforting... Knowing there is no-one up there." (Extracted from his documentary on Zionists living in the West Bank.)

Awards and nominations[edit]

BAFTA Awards[edit]

Year Category Show Result
2002 Richard Dimbleby Award for the Best Presenter (Factual, Features and News) When Louis Met... Won
Flaherty Documentary Award (TV) When Louis Met... The Hamiltons Nominated
2001 Richard Dimbleby Award for the Best Presenter (Factual, Features and News) Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends Won

Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Category Show Result
1995 Outstanding Informational Series TV Nation Nominated

Royal Television Society Television Awards[edit]

Year Category Show Result
2010 Best Presenter A Place for Paedophiles Won
2002 Best Presenter When Louis Met... Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]